Implementing Crime Analysis
The IACA recommends the following process to implement a crime analysis program.
Determine the Goals of your Crime Analysis Program
First, you must determine what you want out of your crime analysis program. What types of crimes or disorder incidents are most important to you? What kinds of products would you like to see? How will the analysis program support the mission of the agency? Talk with other departments that have crime analysis programs for ideas, and attend meetings of your local or regional crime analysis association to network.
Determine How Many Analysts You Need
There are several ways to calculate the total number of analysts you need. The International Association of Crime Analysts recommends one crime analyst for every 1,500 UCR Part 1 crimes that an agency takes in a year. Alternative formulas are one crime analyst for every 1,800 NIBRS Group A crimes, one for every 30,000 calls for service, or one for every 70 sworn officers (only use this latter formula if you feel your staffing levels are adequate). If your calculation results in more than .5 but less than one, one full-time analyst is recommended.
Use the interactive Analyst Calculator below to determine the number of analysts your agency needs:
If You Do Not Need a Full-Time Analyst
Many agencies have benefited from maintaining a full-time analyst even if the formulas above indicate you need less than one. If it is determined that a full-time analyst is not needed, there are ways to hire or appoint one-half, one-quarter, or one-eight of a crime analyst. The easiest is by assigning the analyst other duties that also don’t require a 40-hour week, so depending on whether you appoint an officer or hire a civilian, you end up with a crime analyst/patrol officer, a crime analyst/information systems manager, a crime analyst/dispatcher, and so on. Crime analysis duties are often assigned to a records administrator, investigative aide, or crime prevention officer.
The key is to regard crime analysis as a set of techniques, rather than a full-time position. Few agencies have full-time identification technicians or accident investigators, but almost all have someone trained in fingerprinting and accident reconstruction. Crime analysis is similar.
Another option for smaller agencies is to band together in a regional crime analysis initiative. Six towns of 18,000 residents may not individually have enough activity for a full-time crime analyst, but one region of 108,000 sure does. Since crime analysis is difficult without cross-jurisdictional data sharing, combining resources makes perfect sense for smaller departments.
Decide Whether to Hire a Civilian or Appoint an Officer
There are advantages to both. Officer analysts usually take to the job detailed knowledge of the jurisdiction and its criminals. They understand how the police department works, and they may also have more immediate credibility with the other officers in the agency.
Officers, however, tend to be police officers first and crime analysts second. Civilian analysts may stay in the field longer, more aggressively pursue training, develop their skills, become certified, and provide their agencies with the benefits associated with having a full-time career professional. Civilian analysts don’t usually get re-assigned or promoted, forcing the agency to appoint and train a new person.
Agencies that can justify more than one analyst can give themselves the best of both worlds: a mixture of officers and professional civilian analysts in the same unit. For agencies with only one analyst, we recommend that they hire a civilian and keep their patrol and investigations levels at full strength.
Determine the Organizational Location of the Analyst
The IACA cautions that there are no absolutes here, but the position should be located in a place that best works for the agency. When practical, it’s often best to have a crime analyst report directly to the chief, so that he or she can support the entire agency and not be beholden to any one division.
Determine the Physical Location of the Analyst
Where the analyst is located is a very important decision and it relates directly to whom the analyst is intended to serve. Most often, the analyst’s location should be convenient for line officers and detectives. The tendency is often to locate the analyst in the administrative area of the department. This is acceptable only if the analyst is intended to serve those department members. If the analyst is expected to perform tactical analysis and analyze intelligence, it is highly unlikley that an office next to the Chief will facilitate foot traffic and walk-ins by patrol officers.
Hire or Appoint the Analyst
If appointing from within, look for computer proficiency, experience with statistics and research methods, and strong writing and communications skills. If hiring from the outside, make sure to take advantage of the IACA, which can advertise the position to its members through the jobs page (free) and the IACA Discussion Forum (free to members). To post an open position, please visit the job posting page.
The IACA offers many hiring-related resources in the CAU Development Center; please browse the menu on the right side of this page for more options.
Purchase Equipment or Software
It is usually best to hire the analyst first, so that he or she can determine what resources are already available and research what other analysts in the area are using.
Please visit the hardware and software recommendations page for more information.
Connect Your Analyst to the Greater Analyst Community
Join the new analyst to your local or regional crime analysis association and the International Association of Crime Analysts. Give the analyst the time and resources needed to become an active member of these professional associations.
Provide Training Opportunities
Training and professional development are critical requirements in acomputer-oriented profession such as crime analysis.The commitment to ongoing analyst training does not have to be expensive but it is crucial for the success of your program. The training page will help you determine what training is necessary, affordable, and practical. In addition to classes on specific topics, the annual IACA training conference provides in-depth training on a variety of topics, as well as opportunities to network with other analysts around the world.